Named for the pastureland it once was, Cow Hollow is now defined by its young and well-heeled denizens. The neighborhood is known for its nightlife—including noteworthy bars, restaurants, and nightclubs—and, by day, for its shopping and personal services. Those looking to put down roots here will be well situated between the Marina to the north and Pacific Heights to the south, living in a community both dynamic and classically San Francisco. Running east to west, Union Street is Cow Hollow’s center of commerce, with Fillmore Street providing a second, north-south axis. On these thoroughfares you’ll find fine boutiques and restaurants of all sorts, including many of the city’s favorite brunch spots. If anything captures the neighborhood’s essence, it might be the numerous retailers of high-end athletic fashion, which collectively reflect its residents’ active lifestyles. Beyond the green spaces within its limits, including Allyne Park and a public playground, Cow Hollow also shares a border with Presidio National Park. Its miles of trails and winding roads offer numerous routes for hiking, running, and cycling, leading all the way to picturesque Baker Beach, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the expansive coastal parkland of Crissy Field.
Cow Hollow is home to a variety of architectural styles, from mission to modern, with stately Victorians also in abundance. Its landmark buildings tend towards the quirky, attesting to San Francisco’s enduring irreverence. Built in 1861, the McElroy Octagon House, one of several late-nineteenth-century constructions with this unusual floorplan, has been fully restored and opened to the public. A bright blue Edwardian structure crowned with red onion domes, the Vedanta Society Old Temple, a Hindu religious center, anchors the corner of Filbert and Webster Streets, just off of Fillmore. Equally fanciful is the St. Vincent de Paul Church, also known as Exposition Church, with gambrel rooflines and a multi-story tower that draw from the architecture of both Renaissance Florence and Swiss chalets. Of Cow Hollow’s cultural landmarks, its foremost is perhaps a world-renowned restaurant. The creation of Chef Dominique Crenn, the first woman in the United States to receive multiple Michelin stars, Atelier Crenn boasts a rare three-star rating in the venerable Guide. Vibrant, trend setting, and assured in its status, it serves as an apt representation of Cow Hollow’s unique charisma.